old brown shoes sitting under the tree

The Crafty Shoe-Lovers Guide to What to Do with Old Shoes

We’ve all been through it: looking at our shoe rack or cleaning out the closet and we pause when we see footwear that is no longer used, one after another.

What to do with old Shoes?

old brown shoe

Image Via: Pixabay.com

It’s pretty tempting to tie the laces together and then sling them over power lines. Apparently, that’s artistic.

There’s even a term for it:

Quick Navigation

What to Do with Old Shoes? Toss Them Over Power Lines?

No, don’t.

It will drive you nuts, but there is no clear consensus on why people started tossing shoes over power lines, or even what it means.

However, there are a lot of urban legends:

Our favorite one is that these shoes indicated that you could buy drugs from a dealer lurking nearby. Or that belief about a teenage boy having lost his virginity tossing shoes over power lines to celebrate.

shoe tossing

Image via: www.flickr.com

Further, those in the military toss the shoes of somebody who’s leaving the service or getting assigned to a new post, as a way of saying goodbye.

Whatever the reason, shoes up on power lines can stir intrigue and curiosity:

What does it mean? What’s the message? Is there even a message?

Also, Shoefiti has gotten a lot of discussions online, but none of the blogsnews outlets, and other resources have been able to pin a reason for the act. It even has a website and a Flickrgroup.

And, a documentary:

Don’t do it. Just don’t

What to do with old shoes? Well, not this one.

While there is no inherent harm in throwing shoes over power lines, and it is debatable if footwear slung over public places is an eyesore, you still should not indulge in shoefiti.

Here’s why:

It’s totally devoid of imagination. Especially after you’re done going through our list of suggestions for the next time you find yourself asking, “What to do with old shoes?”

art shoes

Image Via: www.flickr.com

We’re Drowning in Shoes

broken shoe

Image Via: pixabay.com

With a bit of imagination, glue, and other materials you have sitting around the house, you will be able to give new life to old shoes.

Here’s why you should care?

Nearly everyone on earth wears shoes or some other kind of footwear. That means that there a lot of pairs lying around that are no longer used.

If everybody tried flinging their shoes over utility wires, then these cables will soon snap because of the extra weight.

However, the problem goes deeper than that. Stick around and discover why you should be creative in dealing with old shoes.

Some Shoe-Related Statistics that Show we have a Problem

While humans can only wear one pair of shoes at any given time, we do own a lot of footwear.

Men have their dress shoes, sneakers, loafers, and others, worn for different purposes. Women have their fashion high heels, comfortable shoes, sports shoes, and others.

Raise your hand, don’t be shy, if you know somebody who owns at least two pairs of each type of shoe.

old shoe infographic

Let us direct your attention to how many pairs of shoes we throw in a year: 300 million.

With the U.S. population at 325.7 million in 2017, that will mean close to every American — men, women, and children — throw away one pair of shoes every year.

What to Do with Old Shoes?

At the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, Canada, all kinds of shoes are on display.

And not just any shoes:

One of their exhibits includes celebrity footwear, including shoes worn by Madonna, Elton John, Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon, and Elvis Presley.


madonna shoes and other memorabilia

Elvis Presley

Elvis Presley shoes

Andree Spinelly

Andree Spinelly's boots

However, as mere mortals, we cannot expect anybody to be interested in seeing the loafers we wear. So what to do with old shoes?

Here are some suggestions that can rock your, uh, shoe rack:

What to do with old shoes? Turn them into an ATM

Nobody sets out to hoard old shoes. We buy new ones and tend to wear old pairs less and less frequently.

But then the inevitable happens:

Before we know it, we have a number of them pushed at the back of our closets.

shoe closet

Image Via: pixabay.com

It is one of the reasons why we have a lot of shoes that are no longer used but are not worn out. We are willing to wager that half of the shoes in your closet are still very wearable.

Further, quite a number of them might look new.

Another reason for having new-looking shoes that sit in your closet is that they are new. You bought them and then wore them once. It turns out that they are very uncomfortable to wear.

Indeed, some high heels may look nice when they’re still on the store shelf.

But after you wear them for an hour or two, it feels like they were made by a sadistic shoemaker that wanted revenge on women for some unknown slight.

rubber shoes and other gym equipment

Image Via: pixabay.com

Further, some people also find shoes too noisy, so they stop wearing them. But that’s just silly because you can remedy this problem with baby powder.

Speaking of squeaky shoes, did you know that sneakers got their name because the rubber soles do not make a sound?

No matter what the reason is, we are not wearing shoes that still looks very good. So why not sell them?

huge cash on a case

Image Via: pixabay.com

Cashing in on old shoes

Hawking stuff these days is a whole lot faster and more convenient.

There are options:

You can take photos of your kicks and then post it on social media with a big for sale caption on it. If that does not help, you can post it on Craigslist or some other local message board.

Also, there’s eBay. However, if you do not have time to track your selling on the site, you can use eBay Valet. This service will take care of selling your old shoes for you for a 20 percent commission.

Aside from these, there are also online marketplaces exclusively for shoes, such as SoleCollector.com.

female sitting on a cut tree

Image Via: pixabay.com

There are also offline options such as Buffalo Exchange. You can get a 30 percent cut when they sell your stuff. If you are looking to buy some used clothing yourself, you can opt for the 50-percent store credit.

Repair and restore: A “what to do with old shoes” suggestion that can make them look brand new

Sometimes we throw out old shoes that could have been used some more. If you have a favorite pair, you must have agonized about tossing them out because of some minor damage.

But fret not:

You can save yourself the suffering with these tips.

What to do with old shoes that smell funky

Try this:

Insert a tea bag into your shoes and leave it there for a couple of days.

After that, you should then wash your kicks with shampoo diluted in water and dry it outdoors.

Clean White Sneakers

White sneakers go well with just about everything. But it’s a nightmare cleaning them.

White sneakers go well with just about everything. But it’s a nightmare cleaning them.

So, here’s one way that can save you time:

Caked Mud on Non-leather shoes

Wipe away as much of the dirt as you can and then using an old toothbrush and some toothpaste, scrub your shoes and rinse.

Further, you can run your kicks through a delicate washing machine rinse.

Here’s another tip:

Put each shoe inside an old pillowcase and load it.

Leather shoes: Handle with care


Follow the manufacturer’s instructions when cleaning leather shoes.

Resole, rethread, or re-heel

Further, if your shoes still look okay, but the undersides have been worn out, you can have a professional replace the soles.

Or you can do it yourself:

What to do with old shoes? Decorate it

There are many benefits to decorating your old shoes. It will help you spruce your old shoes up a bit, and make it feel and look like you just got a brand new pair.

Further, adorning and garnishing your kicks will give your shoes a new look, while also saving you money.

How much money?

The average price men paid for their ​sneakers in 2012 was $69, while women’s shoes are more expensive at $85.

That does not seem like much, but you need to add the tax and other charges to the sticker price. All in all, the average person would need to work around 80 hours to buy new shoes.

female model wearing converse sneaker

We know that you have old shoes that you want to makeover.

So, here are some nifty ideas:

A dash of color, or create your very own masterpiece

If you can draw or paint, you can use shoes as your canvas.

Here’s an interesting idea:

A great way to give old shoes a new look is by using your own design. A couple of markers and some talent, and you will have an eye-catching pair of customized shoes.

shoes being inspected

You can also do this on leather shoes.

Finally, if you cannot draw, you can still make your shoes look better just by painting over it. Like the walls of your house, a fresh coat of paint can do wonders for your kicks.

Ever wondered by Louboutins have red soles? It turns out that a drawing by Andy Warhol inspired the shoe designer.

Some Design Ideas

If you can draw, do check out the designs by Jeffrey Campbell, that mysterious man behind the company with the same name.

The Lita designer is a real person and not just a label name, or so we are told.

Not inspired yet?

Here are some great design ideas that we can find:

model wearing different pair of shoes

Image Via: pixabay.com

model sitting on the grass with different pair of shoes

Image Via: pixabay.com

For the less artistically inclined, you can use stencils. Or, you can go with chevron, polka dots, hearts, and other easy to make patterns and shapes.

Also, experiment with something repetitive and easy to draw, like pineapples.

Further, you might want to give your old shoes a watercolor look.

Furthermore, you can dabble with sharpies and some other materials for an out of this world design.

Some designs you can try

Finally, there are these designs that you can copy:

design shoes

Image Via: pixabay.com

Patches: Easy, simple, yet cute

Patches are pretty awesome. It looks very professionally made and it’s easy to put on your shoes. You can iron it on, or for an even breezier time, get fabric glue and stick these patches on your footwear.

There are several types of patches available out there, so there is one that will fit your personality. To give your shoes a touch of elegance, you can use embroidered or woven patches.

Have a look:

First off, how do you do it? It is really pretty simple!

Then you also have the stick-on patches where you need either fabric or shoe glue.

It’s fantastic how crazy simple it is put these patches on old shoes, helping you make it more elegant in no time.

Some Design Ideas

Here are some great design ideas you can follow:

white shoe with red bacground

Image Via: pixabay.com

wood shoe holder

Image Via: pixabay.com

Glitter, gemstones, and gold: Glam up your old shoes with bling

Let’s start with glitter:

With glue, mod podge, and tons of glitter, you can turn an old and drab pair of shoes into sparkling beauties.

Fairy dust not enough bling for you? You can also use rhinestones, pearls, beads, and just about any shiny thing you have there.

Here’s how to turn old shoes into designer footwear:

Further, you can repurpose old jewelry by using these to glam up your old shoes.

Speaking of heels, did you know that your salary and your high heels are correlated?

Here’s how:

A study found that 7 out of 10 women who earn less than $40,000 never wear heels, while one in five women who make more than $150,000 wear them daily.

Now back to the blings. You can use two or more blings when sprucing up your kicks. Get inspired with this glitter and rhinestone upgrade tutorial.

Some Design Ideas

Here are some great design ideas you can follow:

shoes with different design color

Image Via: pixabay.com

old shoes with different design

Image Via: pixabay.com

Accents and accessories: Give old shoes a new look

Accents can help you turn a pair of shoes that you like into something that you love. If you have grown bored with that perfect pair of blue loafers you have, then you can accessorize and make it more exciting.

There are several kinds of accents and accessories that you can add to shoes.

Here are some options:

First, you have tassels.

Further, you can steal an idea from Gucci with bows, ribbons, and some bling.

You can also glue colorful buttons or even pearls.

Some Design Ideas

Here are some interesting ideas:

Wrap it up! Style ideas that let you work with fabrics

What to do with old shoes?

You can also cover them in fabric:

Of course, this works better with interesting textile designs.

Some Design Ideas

Here are some great design ideas you can follow:

blue shoes

Image Via: pixabay.com

old red shoe

Image Via: pixabay.com

What do Mariah Carey, Christina Aguilera, and Chris Brown have in common? Aside from being great singers, they all have an impressive collection of shoes.

They probably can’t be bothered to spruce up their shoes, but think of the fun you’d have if you had that many shoes to DIY!

Repurpose it! Turning old footwear into something more useful

There are several reasons you can upcycle shoes:

First, does have a very recognizable form and shape. What’s more, they’re naturally hollow. Further, they are made with durable materials.

These properties make footwear an exciting subject for repurposing.

It takes talent and creativity to find new uses for old shoes, but generally, you will be rewarded with beautiful ornaments that are sure to catch attention.

There are a lot of new uses for old shoes.

Here are some of our favorites:

1. Unique shoe planters

You may think that shoes and plants are not a perfect pair. After all, the only things we know that grow in shoes are molds and fungi.

Well, you might not have seen this:

shoes use for plants

Image via: pixabay.com

It’s a very easy to DIY project where you put the plant at the back of the shoe and then fill the toe part with soil.

If you want your shoe planter to last longer, you can put just enough cement on top of the shoe and then let it dry.

You can also paint this in any color you want.

Further, some people prefer using old rain boots for this purpose.

On top of being waterproof, rain boots do not deteriorate as fast as canvas or leather shoes.

The taller back of rain boots also allows the plants to grow.

So, how do you do this?

Trying to see if this will work for you and your garden?

Here are 50 examples of shoe planters to inspire or motivate you:

2. Ring Holder and Display

Here’s another idea:

A ring holder allows you to store all your rings and then make it easier for you to choose one that will match your outfit without having to take everything out of the jewelry box.

3. A one of a Kind Keepsake for your Baby

It’s fun to keep track of how your baby has grown over the months and then over the years.

Some people post photos of their growing kids.

Others also mark their heights on a wall.

But try this:

Another way is to frame their baby shoes.

baby shoes

Image via: pixabay.com

4. A Safer Pincushion

Oh! What to do with old shoes, especially baby kicks!

We buy our kids shoes even when they are too young to walk, and they usually outgrow it soon enough. As a result, your little one’s footwear is often only slightly used.

If you cannot give it away for sentimental reasons, or because you do not have friends who have kids who can wear them, you have options.

Here’s a fun project for you.

Create a pincushion using these baby shoes.

old black shoes

Image via: pixabay.com

5. Rugged birdhouse

If you like having birds chirping for you when you wake up in the morning, you might want to nail old shoes onto trees.

Try this:

You can also add bird seeds inside, and birds might visit for some snack. They might even decide to live there.

Mi casa es “shoe” casa!

brown shoe for toddler

Image via: pixabay.com

After all, it seems like shoes are a cozy nest for birds.

6. Define luxury: A pillow made out of old leather shoes

If you have a lot of old leather shoes and if you have some mad skills with the sewing machine, then you can turn your old shoes into a leather pillowcase.

Here’s how:

You only need the leather part of your shoes, and you will also need to flatten it and then sew it together.

You only need the leather part of your shoes, and you will also need to flatten it and then sew it together.

This project is perfect for those damaged shoes that you will have thrown out anyway. From junk, you’ve just turned your old shoes into a luxurious living room accent.

7. Create easy to do footpaths with old shoes

What to do with old shoes? Make fun and colorful footpaths. Instead of buying stepping stones, you can just create your own.


brown shoe and a sock

Image via: pixabay.com

Using the soles of rubber shoes, sandals, and other footwear, some paint, and anchoring pins, you can make your yard come alive with colorful stepping stones that are aptly in the shape of feet.

This project is perfect for people who have a lot of old shoes running around. And if you don’t have enough to fill up your yard or garden, you can just add more as the years pass.

8. Beautiful, beautiful bookends

If you have a pair of high heels that you’ve only worn once because it hurts your feet (and we know you do) you are actually in luck.

Give this a try:

Instead of throwing them out, you can use them as bookends.

Around 30 percent of women keep shoes that they do not wear because they look beautiful.

woman with her heels on the table

Image via: pixabay.com

Apart from the pair of high heels, you will also need a couple of old books, glue, and paint. You simply glue the shoes on top of the books and then paint all over both the books and the shoes.

Rather than buying expensive bookends, you can just create this quirky project and wow your friends with such a unique piece.

Further, this bookend gets bonus points because you can store book thongs, bookmarks, and other small trinkets in the shoe.

Or you can also put real succulents or plastic flowers into the high heels to make your bookends go on double duty as an ornament or plant holder.

It is said that Imelda Marcos hoarded 3,000 pairs of expensive shoes while the people her husband led died of hunger.

Most of that collection is now ruined and worthless. Too bad, it would have been nice to have Charles Jourdan planters, or Christian Dior bookends.

What to do with old shoes: Give your wearable pairs to those who need them

Let’s say that you cannot find somebody who is willing to pay for your old shoes. Or perhaps, you do not have the time to create an Instagram- or Pinterest-worthy plant holder or birdhouse.

Don’t fret: there are still options.

First of all, you can donate your shoes.

wearable shoes at the seashore

Image via: pixabay.com


Soles4Souls is a non-profit organization that works to give shoes to those who need them.

And get this:

They have already distributed at least 30 million pairs of shoes in more than 120 countries.

If you are donating less than 12 pairs of shoes, you can leave these at any of their drop off locations, or you can ship it via Zappos for Good.

You can also drop off your donations at any DSW store or buy a shipping label to send the shoes directly to the organization.

Pickup Please

Pickup Please accepts clothing, household items, toys, shoes, and other stuff that is small and light.

Check this out:

You can schedule a pickup at any time, and they will come within 24 hours to get your donations.

You can get that warm fuzzy glow.

And you will also get a tax deduction receipt.

One World Running

One World Running provides running shoes to those who need them. Their focus is on raising awareness of health, nutrition, and fitness all over the world.

Here’s how you can help:

Just visit their drop off locations near you to leave your old running shoes.

old white and black sneakers

image via Pexels

What to do with old shoes that are worn out

Technically, you can donate them as there are thrift stores and charities that accept worn out shoes and then recycle them for you.

However, there are also those that merely dispose of unusable donations.

Here’s a fact you should know:

The United States produces 25 billion pounds of textile per year. A good 85 percent of that ends up in landfills.

As such, please donate responsibly. You might want to think about repurposing or repairing worn out shoes instead.

The last resort: What to do with old shoes that are just begging to be thrown away

When all else fails, and you’ve run out of glitter to spruce up your kicks.

Or you have shoes that are just too worn out.

You still should not toss old shoes over power lines.

Here are two more things that you can do:

white shoes

image via Pexels

You can give them back to retailers

Some shoemakers have recycling programs. This option is perfect for those kicks that are so worn out that you only want to throw them away.

Look at this program:

Nike has the Reuse-a=Shoe program. The soles on your old shoes are made into surface cover, called Nike Grind.

Nike has recycled 28 million shoes under its Nike Better World project.

Recycled rubber from donated shoes has been able to cover more than 630,000 square feet of surfaces.

A;; you have to do is go to your nearest drop off location. If you have Asics shoes, you can also leave your worn-out shoes at their stores.

Or you can take old shoes to a local recycling center

But wait:

There’s one more environmentally friendly option when you are trying to figure out what to do with old shoes.

Rather than disposing of your old shoes in the trash, you can bring them to a nearby recycling center.

Why Should You Reuse, Repurpose, and Recycle Your Old Shoes?

There are many reasons why you should first think about selling, repairing, donating, or finding new uses for your old shoes.

First of all: there’s the money.

When you sell your old shoes, you are getting back some of the money you paid for it. What was once junk gathering dust in your closet can easily subsidize y our next shoe purchase.

On the other hand:

For those who are donating, not only do you benefit from that warm fuzzy glow that can come from giving and helping others, but you also get a tax deduction when you give to charity.

person wearing pink shoes

Image via: pixabay.com

But it’s not just you who should be happy.

By donating old stuff like shoes, you are also contributing to the economy. A survey shows that for every one percent increase in donations, the gross domestic product also increases by about $36 billion.

On a personal level, every dollar you give translates to an additional income of $3.75.

That is because you are not merely donating old shoes. You are also providing raw materials, something for the receiver to wear to go to school or work, or even inventory that they can resell.

For others, the “windfall” is immediate. Want those designer shoes, but can’t afford the price? Get the look for a lot less!

Repairing an old shoe will save you the cost and trouble of buying a new one.

Sentimental Reasons

Some people can attach meanings to their shoes.

For example:

It can be the pair they wore when they landed their first job, or when they met their spouses. It might be the pair their baby was wearing when he took his first step.

You may even be one of them. Around 10 percent do not throw away shoes because of nostalgia.

The problem is that shoes are a part of life and most of the time, they will be there when something momentous happens.

If you start keeping everything you wore when something big happens, then you will have a problem with clutter. Especially when it comes to shoes.

That’s practically guaranteed.

Rather than keeping them in closets, it’s better to repurpose them and show them off.

Give a pair of shoes away! via GIPHY

It might also be an excellent way to gauge if you’re really getting sentimental about that particular shoe, or you’re just coming up with excuses not to get rid of it.

Just think about this:

If you cannot find the time and energy to frame your baby’s shoes, then you might be inflating its sentimental value.

It might be a good indicator that you should give it away to friends who have babies who can use them, or repurpose it.

Care for the environment

There’s more:

Disposing of your old shoes can be a threat to the environment. Repairing your shoes will help lessen the demand for manufacturing.

The list of materials and chemicals used in manufacturing shoes is long, with names that are hard to pronounce, and most of them are harmful to the environment.

When you throw away your old shoes, it creates an even bigger problem. Some chemicals in shoes are so toxic that you can get sick even when you are only exposed to them for a short time in small amounts.

So, What to Do with Old Shoes?

Look at that.

When we started, the only idea you had for what to do with old shoes was to fling them over telephone wires. Perhaps, trying to decide whether to do it with your left or right hand.

Now you see what we meant:

Slinging old shoes up utility lines is a boring and unimaginative exercise. With all the stuff that you can do with shoes, it’s a waste to just throw them up in the air.

What to do with old shoes?

Shoes are meant to be enjoyed, either by you or somebody else.

You can earn from selling them, or you can save money by repairing or repurposing them. You can even make people happy, by giving that pair to someone who needs it.

different model of sneakers

Figuring out what to do with old shoes can be a lot of fun. Start cleaning out your closet today with some of these creative suggestions. Do you have your own idea? Share it with us in the comments.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.